It seems lately that I have been grooming more and more older dogs.
Some are dogs that I have been grooming a long time.
I have watched them grow old right before my eyes.
I have always been extra careful when grooming elderly dogs.
I try to get them in and out of my shop as soon as possible.
To be honest... elderly dogs scare the crap out of me.
I am not scared to groom them, I am petrified that one of them may decide to cross that 'Rainbow Bridge' on my time.
Over the years I have had several customers call me to cancel a same day appointment because the dog passed during the night.
It always shakes me up.
I think..'what if he had made it in for his appointment, and passed when I was grooming him?'
I have also had a couple of elderly dogs pass away a day or two after a grooming.
Those times really shake me up.
I know that there is a groomer somewhere close to me that refuses to groom dogs once they turn 10 years old.
I could not imagine sending away a dog that I have been grooming for 10 years to get used to being groomed by a different person.
I know it sounds crazy, but even though they scare me, I still like grooming them, because I know that I am going to make the grooming as comfortable for them as possible.
Anyway, what does this have to do with a Tuesday Tip?
The Tip is:
To be very straight forward when talking to the owners of elderly dogs.
I don't beat around the bush with them.
I let them know that no matter how carefully I groom their dog, that grooming is like going to the gym for a few hours.
I explain to them that their elderly dog spends 80 to 90 % of its day laying down and sleeping.
I explain that even though I allow them to lay down as much as they want during the grooming, I still have to lift the legs to scissor feet and between legs.
They still have to stand for periods of time during the grooming process.
This all takes a toll on their old bodies, and they go home feeling like they had a workout at the gym.
I will also explain this to customers of arthritic dogs, young and old.
I tell my elderly and arthritic customers to call and talk to their Vet about giving their dog a baby aspirin before they bring their dog to me, and maybe a second one after the grooming.
I stress to the owner that they must ask their Vet before giving any medication.
I decided to have this conversation with all of the elderly dog owners after I got a call one day from a long time customer.
She had just picked her elderly Wheaton up from being groomed.
We had been grooming her dog for years.
She told my husband that this was the second time her dog had come home acting sore and limping a little.
This Wheaton was now 11 years old and had arthritis.
The owner wanted to know if her dog had jumped from the table or the tub.
We assured her that none of the dogs are allowed to jump from the tub or the table no matter how big they are.
We carry all of the dogs from kennel to tub, tub to table, table to kennel.
I told her my theory of how I felt that the grooming process was a workout for older, arthritic dogs.
I told the owner to think about how she felt when she did things out of her normal routine, and used mussels that she normally didn't use.
She called the Vet, he agreed with me, and told her to give the dog a baby aspirin.
She did and he was fine.
I had also told her to ask her Vet about giving a baby aspirin before the groom the next time.
The Vet also agreed with this.
The owners give the Wheaton an aspirin before each grooming now, and the dog has had no problems ever since.
Even though that owner was nice when she called, it still really disturbed me that she actually thought that we let the dog jump from the table or tub, hurting itself, and we didn't tell her.
From that day to this, I have made a point of educating the elderly dog owners before I groom their dogs.
The owners are also told that I will only do what their dog will let me do.
If I feel that something I am doing is making them uncomfortable, I skip that part of the grooming.
I also warn them that there may be stray hairs on the dog, because of not being able to have their dog stand for long periods of time.
I try hard to think of ways to explain things in a way that the owner will understand, without making them feeling like I am lecturing them or talking down to them.
I hate when anyone talks to me like I am an idiot that they have to explain something to.
So I make sure that I don't talk to my customers like that.
Maybe this tip will stop you from getting one of those phone calls after the grooming. :)
Happy Grooming, MFF